Howdy campers. The fact that you’re reading this precludes at least one thing, you have heard of the internet. I personally think that the internet is simply a fad upon which people like yours truly are building a house of cards that will undoubtedly fall. But until that time, build I shall.
As it happens there are some useful tools and information on this internet. Trails.com is a perfect example. A compendium of trails, destinations, and other such information that will localize the information however you would like. You can sort the trails by distance, both from you and trail length, difficulty, seclusion, altitude for those who get the wobbles above say 12k feet, and even beauty. When a trail is entered, something you yourself can also do should you happen to notice a favorite amble of yours missing, anyone else who uses the trail can add information and “rate” certain aspects of it. This means that the more a trail is used, the more accurate the information on it becomes. You can read the five star ratings to see when the flowers and animals are at their most active (flowers can so be active!). You can also read the one star ratings to find out when the skeeter hatch is going wild.
And as we are ALL accomplished map readers here and don’t ever rely on one particular piece of gear to get us safely home, you will love the map printing functionality. Start wide for multi-day trips, and then zoom in nice and tight to see the details. Start with a topo, to make sure you’re not heading into or over any suicide drop-offs. Let the trail profile show you exactly what the entire, or a particular part of the walk is going to be like as far as an incline or decline will be. Switch over to the satellite photo view of your trail, and make sure nobody has a 1964 VW Bus discarded around the half way mark.
“Is it GPS compatible? I hear you all asking”. Why yes, yes it is. Take an existing trail and download it straight to your GPS. Create way-points of your own, create a custom trail, and then download it to your GPS. Take existing trails and upload them from your GPS and give your fellow Trails.com users a little treat from your bag of goodies. Mark an excellent fishing spot that someone has failed to tag. Share your bowel movingly close bear encounter for future hikers. In short…do it all.
Trails.com is an incredibly well conceived and easy to use website. It can broaden even a small area, to include dozens of trails and outdoor niblets previously unbeknownst to you. Satisfy your wander lust by taking a two hour scenic loop, or be the hero of your fellow backpacking peers by putting together a veritable symphony of a trip for your group.
Here’s hoping this internet thing sticks, and using it to get out, see and experience more.
I’ll see you on the Trails(.com)
Quick Tip: Triangulation is a very simple way to determine your location on a map. Here’s a website that shows this basic compass skill. As in life, so is also true on the trail; knowing where you are is the first step to getting where you want to be.